Thirty-nine parishes discovered last month that 2012 would be a good year for them when they were offered grants by the Church Buildings Council and The Wolfson Foundation to support essential repair works to their church buildings. The works range from major re-roofing projects through essential repairs to towers and parapets to improvements to drainage and rainwater disposal. Funding these works can be a difficult task for small parishes, particularly in rural areas with tiny communities.
Each year The Wolfson Foundation offers small grants to Anglican churches across the United Kingdom, typically granting up to £5,000 for each project. Although a small sum set against likely costs, when added to other small grants, the awards help parishes reach required complementary funding for English Heritage/Heritage Lottery Fund support that they may have already secured. Importantly the grants help parishes to keep their buildings watertight, therefore protecting historically significant exteriors, interiors and furnishings, as well as safe, reducing the risk of accidents from falling masonry, for example.
Key criteria for Wolfson grant support are that the churches must be listed Grade I or Grade II* and normally pre-date the end of the Victorian period. The Wolfson Foundation’s grants provide a vital boost for parishes wishing to keep their buildings open, accessible and sustainable.
On hearing about his parish’s success, John Gratton wrote on behalf of Timberscombe Parochial Church Council, “Our sheer delight, from the churchwardens and the PCC, on receiving your news was overwhelming. This grant has made such a difference to our small church and it is as though you have given us a wonderful Christmas present.”
Simon Fourmy, Director of Grants at the Wolfson Foundation, commented "These are remarkable buildings, both architecturally and historically, and are much loved by their communities. We are delighted to be helping preserve them for future generations."
The Revd Tony Redman, the Church Buildings Council member who chairs the Church Fabric Repairs sub-committee, was delighted, declaring that, “As an inspecting surveyor for a number of churches, I have first-hand experience of the positive effect that a Wolfson Foundation Grant has for parishes. Both the Church Buildings Council and The Wolfson Foundation can be confident that the applications we have assessed will enable the churches to continue to make a significant contribution to the wider communities which they serve, especially where fund raising has proved particularly difficult in these recessionary times.”
Further information: Louis Henderson  7898 1326
Notes for Editors
Out of its total of 16,000 churches, the Church of England has the care of over 4,000 Grade I listed buildings representing 45% of the total number listed at that level nationally. Another 4,000 churches are listed as Grade II*.
The grant scheme is administered by the Church of England’s Church Buildings Council on behalf of The Wolfson Foundation. A sub-committee of the Council provides technical expertise to evaluate applications and assess the historical significance of each building as well as the scope of the works to be undertaken against the Foundation’s criteria. The scheme has been available for over 10 years and has seen growing numbers of buildings supported, now as many as 80 in one year, and more significantly an increase in applications for support.
The Church Buildings Council of the Church of England is a statutory body, which advises Chancellors and Diocesan Advisory Committees (DACs) under the operation of the faculty system. The Council has a general duty "to promote the care and conservation of churches and greater knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of and artistic activity relating to churches both within the Church of England and more widely among the general public". A great deal of its work, both in terms of casework and wider policy initiatives, relates to the preservation of our remarkable heritage of 12,500 listed buildings. But they are also determined that the legacy that we leave to future generations is as worthy as that we have inherited.
The Wolfson Foundation is a charitable foundation set up in 1955. Grants are made for the advancement of science and medicine, health, education, the arts and humanities. As a general policy, funding is provided to back excellence, to act as a catalyst and to provide for promising future projects which may currently be underfunded. The Foundation allocates around £30 million each year.
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